I. History of the Development of the Science: (§ 1). Biblical Indications. The Christian Church engages in multifarious activities connected with its belief in Christ and characteristic of its life, these including missions, the edification of its members, the performance of public worship, and the care of the poor and needy. All this, as at present discharged, is but a continuation of what the Church has done from the first. Immediately after the ascension, the disciples began to preach in order to win new believers (Acts ii. 36 sqq.); and those so won were baptized (Acts ii. 41) and "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts ii. 42). Similar development took place elsewhere (Rom. vi. 3; I Cor. xi. 20, xii. 13, 28; Gal. iii. 27); the gentile Christians received specific rules of conduct (Acts xv. 20); the sick were the objects of special religious rites (James v. 14-15); and the imposition of hands was used in ordination (Acts vi. 6, xiii. 3; I Tim. iv. 14, v. 22). The discharge of all these duties led to the emergence of special persons to perform them. Christ himself had chosen certain ones to continue his work (Matt. xxviii. 18-20), and the title of apostle, which he had given them (Luke vi. 13), could be conferred by the Christian community (Gal. i. 1), and might even be assumed falsely (II Cor. xi. 13; Rev. ii. 2). Other designations were also used; ruler (cf. Rom. xii. 8; Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24), elder (Acts xi. 30, xiv. 23; James v. 14), bishop (Phil. i. 1), prophet, (Acts xi. 27), teacher (Acts xiii. 1), evangelist (Acts xxi. 8), servant (Phil. i. 1). See ORGANIZATION OF THE EARLY CHURCH.
(§ 2). Early and Medieval Church. Before long, as may be seen from the Didache (q.v.), a system of regulation was evolved, both in ritual and legislation, although preaching, in particular, could not so strictly be outlined. The germs of practical theology lay in all these things. From this came Liturgics, Symbolics (qq.v.), Catechetics (see CATECHESIS, CATECHETICS), Homiletics (q.v.), and the rules governing the various orders of clergy, as well as ecclesiastical functions themselves; and to this same early period belong such efforts at practical theology as Chrysostom's De sacerdotio, Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, Ambrose's De officiis, and Gregory's Regula pastoralis. Medieval theology devoted most attention to liturgics, next to canon law, of those branches now considered parts of practical theology. This fact was due to problems arising in the life of the Church. Thus the need of instructing the clergy in their duties gave rise to the De ecclesiasticis officiis of Isidore of Seville, the De exordiis of Walafrid Strabo, and the De institutione clericorum of Rabanus Maurus. These and similar writings discussed, from the medieval point of view, themes which would now be regarded as parts of liturgics and pastoral theology, with an attempt to gain a historical foundation and explanation for the subjects treated. Homiletics, on the other hand, received comparatively scant attention, as contrasted with the discussions of liturgics by Rupert of Deutz, Honorius of Autun, Sicardus, and Durand; while the development of catechetics was prevented by the fact that medieval catechizing was restricted to the hearing of texts and the reading of authorized interpretations.
(§ 3). In the Reformation and After. The fathers of the Reformation churches sought to establish and regulate, so far as possible, worship, feasts, administration, and the duties of clergy and congregation, this being exemplified in such agenda as those of Bugenhagen, Brandenburg-Nuremberg, Pomerania, and Electoral Palatinate (see AGENDA). While the pastor, though not the only person concerned in the church, was yet the chief figure, his activity in its various aspects was the main theme of the agenda, and pastoral activity accordingly formed the center of practical theology. But it was not enough merely to lay down rules; the pastor must know what he did and why. Directions and theoretical bases must, therefore, be included, and these are found in the Brandenburg-Nuremberg agenda and similar early Reformation documents, which commingle subjects belonging to dogmatic, exegetical, historical, and practical theology, though all intended was to subserve correct ecclesiastical procedure. One side required still more profound discussion-preaching; and the agendas accordingly gave models for the preacher or referred him to recognized authorities. Side by side with the official agendas arose compends of all that the pastor must know, do, and claim, these being Protestant analogues to the Roman Institutio of Rabanus and the Manuale curatorum of Surgantius. Since in Luther the Lutherans saw the model of a pastor, and since he had devoted no special treatise to this matter, Porta, shortly after the Reformer's death, compiled from his writings a Pastorale Lutheri, similar productions being the Hirtenbuch of E. Sarcerius (1559), the Pastor of N. Hemming (1566), the Hirt of Zwingli (1525), the Pastorale of Lorich (1537), and the De cura animarum of Butzer (1538). All these authors seek their basis in the Bible, and a similar course was pursued with rigidity by Andreas Hyperius (q.v.), who held that before practical theology can be put in force, it must be made a part of scientific theological study, and must be taught systematically, not fragmentarily. Demanding an immense amount of preliminary reading on the part of the student, covering all practical theology except missions, he held that such reading would involve preparation for the practical work of the ministry. All must be squared with the Bible, or, where the Bible did not contain specific data, with the commandments of love for God and one's neighbor. In addition, he urged the preparation of a work on church government, including the data of the New Testament, relevant portions of church history, excerpts from the councils, papal decrees, Church Fathers, and works on dogmatics, liturgics, and the like. Both Reformed and Lutheran theologians were influenced by Hyperius, but they limited themselves to parts of practical theology, declining to erect the massive structure he desired. Protestant tenets required that the clergyman be above all things primarily a preacher, while medieval writers had deemed him rather a liturgist. Practical theology, though not under that name and not in all its parts, gained its place in the methodology of theological study mainly as a system of homiletics.
(§ 4). Protestant Development. All theology being, either immediately or mediately, practical, the name practical theology must be deemed a restriction of the designation of the whole to a part. The wide extensibility of the word "practical" led to its application to Christian ethics and to church activities, for which the study of theology both in general and in its parts, as homiletics or ethics, formed the preparation. It is remarkable that in all early discussions of practical theology, as by Alsted, Gisbert Voetius, and J. Forster, catechetics is lacking, though the second-named divides the theme into moral (or casuistic), ascetic, politico-ecclesiastical, and homiletic theology. There was, indeed, a catechetic theology, but this was construed as the knowledge of the chief tenets of Christianity which the theologian must have for himself, not as a theory of church instruction. It was not until the rise of Pietism that catechetics became an integral part of practical theology. It was in the transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century that the several parts of practical theology were recognized as an organic whole, which was designated "practical theology." J. E. C. Schmid, in his Theologische Encyklopädie (1810), and G. J. Planck (q.v.) in his Grundriss (1813), adopted this terminology, both speaking of it as the one customarily used. It is thus impossible to regard Schleiermacher as the founder of practical theology, even in the sense that it owed to him its scientific existence. At the same time, he essentially furthered it by his Kurze Darstellung (1811, 1830) and by his lectures, and gave it systematic development. While positing the mutual interdependence of scientific and practical theology, the latter is regarded as the crown of theological study, since it presupposes all the other branches and prepares for their realization. Schleiermacher's construction of the subdivisions of practical theology was conditioned by his theory of the Church, which he held to be the community of Christian life for the independent exercise of Christianity. Since this presupposes organization, church administration rests on a distinct formulation of the original antithesis between leaders and led. This administration is in the hands of the leaders, or theologians, and Christian theology is the content of knowledge and regulation without which the harmonious administration of the Church is impossible. The community may connote either individual congregation or denomination, and from the religious life of the former Schleiermacher constructed homiletics, liturgics, catechetics, missions, and pastoral care. From this point of view, practical theology includes the traditional subdivisions with the addition of missions. The administration of the denomination as a whole Schleiermacher sought in ecclesiastical authority and in the free power of the spirit, both having ultimately the same end, but the former enacting or restraining, while the latter inspires and admonishes, so that the excellence of religious condition is directly proportionate to the living interaction of these two factors. The interest of the nexus between the individual congregation and the denomination is subserved by church legislation, which affects liturgy and usage, the membership of individuals in the Church, and discipline and the building of churches. It thus preserves both free development and unity, besides guarding the relations of Church and State, and to it is also assigned, especially to the theological teacher and author, the task of pointing out the norm which he must follow if his activity is to benefit the entire body of his communion. In all this Schleiermacher's importance lies in the fact that he gave these elements systematic discussion on the basis of church government. The historical treatment, on the other hand, was less emphasized, and both this side and the systematic aspect received elaboration and development from Schleiermacher's successors, the most important being Karl Immanuel Nitzsch (q.v.).
II. Theoretical Discussion: (§ 1). Basal Concepts. The derivation of practical theology from the essence of the Church and the concept of the Church itself as the subject and object of that theology have been maintained, with various modifications, from the time of Schleiermacher. Mention may be made of such theologians as P. K. Marheineke, A. Schweizer, Nitzsch, and F. A. E. Ehrenfeuchter (qq.v.). Ehrenfeuchter however, seems to exclude missions from practical theology. But this difficulty is solved when it is remembered that in its missionary activity the Church follows the impulse to recover what really appertains to it. The problem recurs more cogently in the case of home missions, and in so far as such missions depart from their original character and are devoted to charitable and humanitarian ends, they come under the category of ethics rather than of practical theology. The means for accomplishing that church activity with which practical theology is concerned are generally agreed to be prayer, preaching, and the sacraments, the congregation being the agent in the first, and God in the two latter. Since the object of this activity is the congregation itself, practical theology must distinguish between the congregation as united with the risen Christ in faith and as living in this world. A distinction is accordingly drawn between the congregation as existent (in possession of the means of communion and of the spirit necessary to such communion) and as nascent (subject to the influences of earthly life); and all this church activity ultimately leads to the great distinction between persons who act and persons who are acted upon.
(§ 2). Subdivisions. Turning to the traditional and generally recognized subdivisions of practical theology, it is clear that homiletics and catechetics belong together in so far as both are concerned with the Word for the congregation, the difference being that homiletics deals with the trained and catechetics with the untrained. The object of liturgics is less clear, but some light may be gained by reckoning under it the theory of the prayer of the congregation. It may then include hymnology and music, as well as confirmation, confession, marriage, and burial. It is true that all these belong in part to the theory of the Word, but their specific content appertains to the theory of the prayer of the congregation. Here, too, belong the dedication of objects, which God is besought to give to the right people, and to endow with his spirit. The theory of the administration of the sacraments is meager if only the ceremonies be described; but this administration depends upon other problems, such as the justification of infant baptism. The position of pastoral theology is peculiar. Formerly, as still among Roman Catholic theologians, it included all practical theology; and traces of this excess still survive even among Protestants, so that it involves both pastoral duties in general and individual pastoral care. It is best, however, to restrict pastoral duties in general to the functions of the personage entrusted with the discharge of the major part of that with which practical theology is concerned, and to confine pastoral care to the special needs of individual cases (see PASTORAL THEOLOGY). If this be done, the two subdivisions can not be combined, a fact which is to the advantage of both. Home missions are a special extension of individual pastoral care, so that it is unnecessary for practical theology to treat it as a special subdivision. Since, however, home missions do not employ pastors, pastoral theology should no longer be restricted to pastors, but should be extended to deacons and deaconesses. It must, accordingly, be transformed into a theory of the officials of the congregation, and thus of the entire organization of the Church. In this way pastoral theology becomes the last of the subdivisions of practical theology; after the activities of the Church have been set forth, the theory of the persons performing them forms the conclusion. The theory of the church year and of the Pericopes (q.v.) forms part of Homiletics (q.v.), shading over into Liturgics (q.v.). The position of foreign missions (see MISSIONS TO THE HEATHEN) in practical theology is uncertain; but E. C. Achelis is probably right in placing them immediately before the theory of church government, for activity directed toward an already existing Church must first be treated, and then that directed toward the non-Christian world. The missionary theory of practical theology must not invade church history or the training of missionaries, but must be restricted to the position to be maintained by the Church in missionary activity and to the means for rousing missionary enthusiasm within the congregation.
(§ 3). Bouleutics. J. C. K. von Hoffmann (q.v.) has added to the functions of theological and ecclesiastical activity the learned representation and counsel of the Church, these being discharged by the theologian in his ex-officio capacity as a member of the religious community. From this point of view apologetics and polemics would fall within the scope of practical theology, though these would still have to be furnished by the exegete, historian, and dogmatician, practical theology requiring them simply in the interests of the present-day Church. For this learned counsel von Hoffmann coins the word "bouleutics," which, though without theoretical development, is furthered not only by theological thought, but also by periodicals and pamphlets. Such voluntary counsel, however, can be beneficial only when based on a solid foundation, and while practical theology must indeed afford counsel, this must be accomplished through the theoretical development of the duties of the Church, not through a special system of bouleutics. Practical theology itself must perform the office of bouleutics for all ecclesiastical tasks and duties, and from its concentration on the present life and activity of the community it follows that it must be denominational in character.
(§ 4). Classification. In the light of the foregoing, the means of the life of the religious community may be classified as follows: the theory of the prayer of the congregation (liturgics), of the Word for the trained and untrained (homiletics and catechetics), the administration of the sacraments, care for those members of the congregation who are cut off from its life (pastoral care) and for the non-Christian world (foreign missions), and the theory of the officiants and their duties (theory of the officials of the congregation). More important than this classification is the problem whether practical theology has its own field, whether it is separate from exegetical, systematic, and historical theology, or whether it is to be referred to them. In the first place, practical theology is concerned with the establishment of an actual state of things, all other theology with the knowledge of such a state. Again, practical theology is the theory of the technic of the right administration of the ecclesiastical means of community, prayer, preaching, and the sacraments. It is undeniable that practical theology needs the aid of other departments of theology, but since these are often inadequate for its requirements, it is obliged to supplement them in all their capacities. But it remains throughout essentially "applied theology," and it accordingly treats all the material supplied by the other departments of theology in a distinctly characteristic fashion, developing the practical application of such material in church, life and the theoretical basis of such application. Between the theory of the nature of any theological activity (e.g., baptism) and the performance of such activity lies the theory of its performance, and this theory is the specialty of practical theology.
(§ 5). Relation to Non-theological Sciences and Arts. Practical theology also sustains a close relation to certain non-theological sciences and arts in consequence of the training of theologians and the peculiar nature of Christian worship, and modern conditions demand that the theologian engaged in practical work have more than has been included in his professional education. It is not, however, the function of practical theology to supply this need, any more than it is the duty of exegesis or church history to do so. Despite the fortuitous combination (for example) of homiletics with rhetoric, or of catechetics with pedagogics, practical theology can and should, in reality, supply its' own needs in these respects from within itself. This division of theology also bears a relation to the fine arts, for though these sustain no essential connection with practical theology, yet the construction and adornment of a church edifice appertains to architecture, sculpture, and painting, sacramental vessels may be artistically embellished, and parts of the service may be rendered in poetic or musical setting. In so far as art furthers religious ends, it may be employed by practical theology; when it passes beyond these limits, it must be rejected.
(§ 6). Final Tests. A far more difficult problem is the proof of the correctness of the theory of practical theology. On Protestant principles this must be accomplished by the Bible, a task which is not easy. While many details can not be proved from indisputable Bible passages, the attempt must be made to gain from the New Testament such a general view of church life as shall include all the vital functions of the congregation, all the powers conferred upon it, all its activities and experiences, all its personages, all its relations to the non-Christian world, and the consequent position of its Lord and the leaders of its life. This reconstruction must run through the entire New Testament, and from it will be gained a picture of the Christian Church in all its aspects, as well as a survey of the agencies to serve for its guidance and a basis for the procedure to be adopted by it at the present day. For all this a thorough knowledge of church history is essential, and modern practical theology is, fortunately, seeking to gain this knowledge. Since, moreover, church activity is always directed toward the Church at the present time, a complete knowledge of that present is essential to practical theology, and it must also furnish the ways and means whereby those engaged in practical church work can acquire this knowledge. This can not be attained, however, by mere references to books. Practical theology must concern itself, besides all else, with the relations between congregations, the correct questioning of the laity, and the proper mode of pastoral visiting. In this way it aids in finding the way for the correct performance of what has been ascertained to be the right mode of church activity.